What the Health? A Meditation Guide for Beginners

What is Meditation?

Globally, the state of being in good health is defined as, “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization). Many of us tend to neglect our mental well-being, and this is incredibly naive. The same way we brush our teeth, bathe, and eat nutritious food every day to prevent illness and remain in good health, we must also cleanse and feed our minds. One way of accomplishing this is through meditation.

 Meditation is a practice to quiet the mind. Its essence lies in it being a practice of de-concentration. The goal is to make the mind thoughtless, uninfluenced. Imagine your mind as a pond, any disturbances to the pond will cause it to ripple. Similarly, any disturbances to the mind will cause it to ripple, too. During meditation, we want our minds to become steady and still, like a ripple-less pond. During the beginning stages of practicing meditation, you may not feel at ease, you may not feel calm and this is normal. It is natural for us to have thoughts, and trying not to think of anything will trigger even more. Thus, it is important to be guided with the right techniques so that you can achieve quieting of the mind. Below are some of the benefits one can experience after regular practice of meditation.

 

In Preparation for Meditation

Close your eyes. Come to sit comfortably, if sitting in a chair, bring your awareness to your toes. Lift each toe off the ground and slowly lower them back to the floor one by one, feeling the energy of the earth grounding you. Allow this energy to travel up your body, finding stability in your tailbones, strength and length in your back, broadening your shoulders, bringing your chin aligned with the floor, and beginning to put your mind at ease.

In preparation for meditation, to stabilize the mind and calm the nervous system, it is highly recommended to complete some breathing exercises. Now, bring your awareness to your breath. Is it shallow? Is it deep? Is it pulsing? Is it steady? Observe the natural rhythm of your breath and begin to inhale deeply. Count to three as you inhale. Notice your abdomen extending, your ribcage expanding, and your collar bones rising. Begin to exhale on six counts. Notice your collarbones lowering, your ribcage contracting, and your abdomen pulling in. Continue focusing on this three-part breath for several minutes.

Once you are comfortable with this breathing, raise your right arm, bringing your palm to a fist, releasing the thumb and ring finger. Cover your left nostril with your ring finger as you inhale with your right nostril. Cover your right nostril with your thumb as you exhale through your left nostril. After exhaling completely, inhale fully through your left nostril, release your thumb, cover your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale fully through your right nostril. After exhaling completely, inhale fully through your right nostril, cover your right nostril with your thumb and exhale fully through your left nostril. Continue this alternate nostril breathing, inhale right, exhale left, inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left etc.

 

Practicing Meditation

After about five minutes, lower your arm, readjust your position, ensuring your back is erect. Now you are ready to meditate. Meditation can be practiced by either focusing on the breath, a mantra such as Om Shanti (Om Peace), or any other technique you may be comfortable with. The goal is to keep your mind focused on one thing to bring it towards thoughtlessness. Any time that you feel your mind drifting away from your focal point, try to bring it back or choose a new one.

After completing your practice, rub your hands together until you feel warmth and cup your hands over your eyes. This warmth will soothe your eyes. Once the heat begins to dissipate, massage the temples and behind the neck and any other area that needs some release. Open the eyes, bring the palms together and if desired, recite:

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”

“May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.”

“[T]he period between four and six in the morning is called the Brahmamuhurta, the Brahmic time, or divine period, and is a very sacred time to meditate.” (140) ― Swami SatchidanandaThe Yoga Sutras

 

Photo(s) provided by the author, Sreya Belbase; https://i.pinimg.com/originals/96/f6/b2/96f6b2f4fbbe85ab80f4b4bb016a3431.png, and https://sg-dae.kxcdn.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/hys-2013-wk8-8.jpg